As an osteopath at the Finchley Osteopathy Clinic, I’m often asked about the difference between Osteopathy and Chiropractic medicine. I think this question is a source of confusion to the general public.
Essentially both Osteopaths and Chiropractors take a holistic approach, treating similar conditions. Both professions use observation and palpation (touch) in patient assessment. Chiropractors frequently rely on diagnostic procedures (x-ray, MRI, blood test, etc…), while osteopaths place more emphasis on physical examination and will refer patients for further examination if necessary.
Osteopaths tend to concentrate on how well the structure of the body is functioning and circulation. In contrast, chiropractors, focus on the spine and the alignment of vertebrae as the primary means to relieving pain and tension throughout the body.
Patients visiting an osteopath will experience a wide variation of treatment. Osteopaths use many techniques (soft tissue, muscle work, joint articulation and mobilisation/manipulation) to re-balance your body’s innate healing system. The specific treatment will depend upon the patient’s unique circumstances.
Chiropractors tend to focus on influencing the nervous system by using manipulation techniques to adjust the position of your spine and joints. Adjusting the alignment of the spinal column will permit optimal nerve conduction.
Length of treatment also tends to vary between osteopaths and chiropractors. Chiropractic appointments are typically shorter focusing on spine and other joint adjustment. Chiropractors also tend to see patients more frequently, as the muscles connected to the misalignment can pull the bone back out of place. It may take a few adjustments to settle the spine or other joint into proper alignment.
Osteopaths tend to spend more time per visit with a patient. The focus of the treatment is broader and treatment techniques are more varied. Osteopaths also tend to have fewer appointments per condition, space the appointments over a longer period of time, and encourage the patient to take an active role in the healing process by providing advice and self-directed exercise.
There is a huge variation between practitioners of both disciplines as the approach is highly subjective. Each osteopath and each chiropractor has his/her own unique approach to diagnosis and treatment. It is important, for you as a patient, to find a practitioner that suits your needs. Osteopath vs Chiropractor? You will have to find what works for you.